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Mayor Ko Attends Thanksgiving Gala Celebrating MRT 10 Billionth Trip

* According to Ko Wen-je, since the MRT commenced operation in 1996, the historical record of the 10 billionth trip was set on March 31 this year after 23 years of progress, marking an important milestone in the history of Taiwan. He also mentioned that after the Executive Yuan approved the preliminary network of Taipei’s mass transit system in 1986, the incumbent mayor at the time Hsu Shui-te formed the preparatory office. Subsequently, with insistence from Mayor Huang Ta-chou, all 6 Taipei MRT lines were opened at the same time, increasing daily ridership from 40,000 passengers to 2.1 million passengers, demonstrating significant growth.

Ko also mentioned that all great endeavors or enterprises must embrace obstacles and challenges from the start, and the same applies to the MRT, which experienced accidents such as fire and tire punctures on the Muzha Line. However, thanks to the forerunners at Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation (TRTC), all these difficulties have been overcome, culminating in the tremendous accomplishment of today.

The mayor commented that the MRT is something Taipei can be proud of on the world stage, with cleanliness, orderliness, courtesy all becoming an integral part of the Taipei Metro culture. Those who have boarded subways overseas will appreciate the effort that goes into upholding such MRT culture after 23 years. This means that the ethical standards of our citizens have been elevated to a respectable level; he also taunted himself that he was once reprimanded by a passenger for not waiting in line.

Mayor Ko shared with the audience the latest progress of Taipei Metro: the Circular Line Phase 1 is slated for operation by the end of this year; while Wanda Line and Xinyi Eastern Extension are currently under construction. In particular, the city government perceives Taipei Metro as the forerunner of Taipei Smart City, where digitization, unmanned stores, logistics, smart locker, and the 5G system will be implemented throughout MRT system.

However, Ko also pointed out that several flaws of the metro system are currently being rectified. The first being the Transit Oriented Development (TOD); when planning the MRT network in the early phases, the spirit of urban planning was not incorporated, hence in order to resolve this issue, the city government has carried out a restructuring of all 40 MRT stations in accordance with the urban planning. In other words, the MRT network must be considered as a primary form of transportation, with urban planning designed around the network. Consequently, the TOD urban design guideline for the 40 stations will be announced this year by Taipei City Government.

Secondly is the aspect of commercialization. According to Ko, the MRT ticket price has not been increased over the last 23 years, and it had become an extreme burden when he assumed office. Consequently, it is imperative to think of ways to increase non-operating income in order to prevent ticketing pressure. He pointed out using Hong Kong’s MTR as an example that the revenue of Taipei Metro relies too heavily on ticketing, as Hong Kong’s MTR generates the bulk of its revenue from real estate and shopping centers, this is something that Taipei’s metro system is lacking. Therefore, he hopes that TRTC can focus more on non-operating income in addition to its core transport business. He commended TRTC for demonstrating exceptional growth in non-operating income over the last 4 years. Currently, the MRT Shilin Station is used as the test subject; with the goal of commercialization, TRTC will strive to increase non-operating income (property management).

The next involves industrialization; the mayor indicated that it is a pity that Taiwan has not created its own rail industry since the advent of the Taipei Metro network, hence he appealed to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to contemplate how to establish Taiwan’s own rail industry.

Last but not least is the characterization of MRT stations. According to the mayor, TRTC currently operates 117 stations, but only MRT Jiantan Station features a unique design. He believed that if Taipei Metro is to start all over again, he will make sure that each station sports a distinctive design that is representative of the local culture and characteristics. In order to resolve this problem in the future, several stations will be chosen every year to receive artistic makeovers or seek sponsorship from enterprises in order to beautify the MRT stations.

Ko Wen-je emphasized that despite all of the abovementioned problems, reaching the 10 billionth trip is a remarkable achievement of Taipei’s metro system. He expressed his gratitude to the endeavors of MRT veterans before him in transforming Taipei into a culturally advanced metropolis of the world.

Thereafter, Ko Wen-je presented the Best CEO Award to the President of Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation B.C. Yen in thanking him for his contributions to Taipei Metro over the last 4 years.